Your Nutella Sandwich Is Missing Something ... and It's Blue Cheese
I'd long heard that blue cheese and chocolate pair surprisingly well together, but I'd never thought to eat them together on a sandwich. That is, until Dominque Crenn told us that one of her all-time favorite flavor combinations is blue cheese and chocolate-hazelnut spread.
“I love to put blue cheese and chocolate sauce together on brioche; it’s delicious,” the chef told Food & Wine. “You spread the blue cheese—it has to be French, obviously, Roquefort—but you can do an English one. You spread it, and you let it melt for a second, then you put on the Nutella-style spread. Then you close it, and you put it under a cylinder to grill it.”
I caught up with Crenn at the 12th annual Cayman Cookout this year, hosted at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, and when she described the quasi-grilled cheese, I’ll admit, I was skeptical. But it seemed like a simple enough recipe, and the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. The rich chocolaty flavor of the spread could help temper the funk from the sandwich. Besides, cheese and chocolate aren't complete strangers to each other, so why not combine these two? I had to try it.
I came back from the supermarket last week armed with French brioche, the required Roquefort, and Nutella. Note that Crenn specifically told me not to use Nutella for this dish—she prefers homemade hazelnut spread. However, considering the options available at my local store and my minimal weeknight energy, it had to do. So I lined everything up, brought out my skillet, and got to work.
With the heat on the border between low and medium, I melted one tablespoon of butter and placed the bread slices down sans spread and cheese. Then, I opened the Roquefort and started chipping off crumbles to add on top of each slice, spreading them as best I could. It was easier after the brioche had started to crisp up a little on the bottom and the cheese had melted—at that point, I knew it was time to add the Nutella. (Hesitantly. I still wasn’t sold yet.) I grabbed a spoon and put two heaping spoonfuls right over the cheese on one side, working quickly to then close the sandwich and press it down with a weighted plate.
As soon as the cheese and Nutella were squished together, there was a sort of magic. The air became fragrant, and I watched as the spread melted and enveloped the Roquefort pieces, creating a gooey, creamy layer. The sandwich was done soon afterwards, with the brioche incredibly crispy and chocolate oozing out the sides. It looked good, but would it taste good?
In short, yes. The first bite was buttery and salty, with an almost smoky sweetness—as predicted, the funkiness of the blue cheese wasn’t nearly as overwhelming as I thought it would be. With Crenn’s homemade hazelnut spread and more precise proportions, I imagine it would be even better. I took another bite, and another. It was undeniable—the flavors were in harmony, and others who tried a piece agreed, too.
There were a few caveats. For one, the sandwich was so rich that I could never eat it on my own. I’d also definitely recommend using a knife and fork, since it was pretty messy. But, overall, I was pleasantly surprised.
Will this be my new go-to grilled cheese? No. Would I order it at a restaurant? Maybe, if it was a shareable small plate or appetizer. Regardless, the dish makes a strong case for fooling around in the kitchen—you never know what you might be missing.